GRAND MOUND – The White Swan Dream Makers come from a small town roughly 40 miles southwest of Yakima on the Yakama Reservation—a small town with big problems.
In just four months between June 2010 and October 2010, four young people committed suicide—and according to the 2010 Healthy Youth Survey, 22 percent of the students at Mt. Adams Middle School and White Swan High School reported they had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months.
In such a small community with such a large percentage of youth considering suicide, the White Swan Dream Makers were motivated by more than statistics—they had personal reasons for choosing suicide prevention as their team project. At least two team members had personal experience talking friends out of ending their lives.
The Dream Makers modeled their project after a publication developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration called “To Live to See the Great Day that Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults.” The project included developing a suicide prevention planning team, training youth, selecting educational materials and making presentations. The team papered their school with little notes saying, “I’m glad you’re here. You’re special.” Since the team launched its project, White Swan has lost no more kids to suicide.
With their powerful message and impressive results, the White Swan Dream Makers won the grand prize at Spring Youth Forum, presented by the Washington Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery and the Attorney General’s Office, on May 19 at the Great Wolf Conference Center in Grand Mound, Wash.
The small-town prevention team will now have the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America national leadership training with $4,000 in scholarship assistance.
The Dream Makers weren’t the only team to deliver a powerful message at last week’s forum. More than 350 students from 42 different youth prevention teams showcased their projects, which ranged from “drawing the line” against underage drinking to discouraging bullying to prevention tobacco use and beyond.
They competed for each other’s votes in a playoff event with a positive theme. Participants were judged by their peers and adult volunteers, who scored presentations based on five categories: innovation, sustainability, impact, presentation style/professionalism and collaboration/partnerships.
Julie Marie Carrier, national youth speaker and teen success coach from the hit MTV series “Made,” offered the teams inspirational guidance as the event’s keynote speaker. Miss Washington Jacquie Brown assisted in the master of ceremonies duties for the event and shared her compelling personal journey as a homeless youth from an abusive home who made her way to 3rd runner-up in the Miss America Scholarship Pageant.
The Attorney General’s Office has dedicated about $800,000 from consumer protection settlements with drug companies to help fund prevention programs, including the Spring Youth Forum.
“These young adults put the money to great use, developing multimedia spectacles with positive, persuasive message,” McKenna said.
The forum followed-up with students who attended the 2010 Washington Prevention Summit in Yakima last fall. At the Fall Summit, students were challenged to develop prevention programs for their communities. All who accepted the challenge were invited to apply to attend the Spring Youth Forum. Teams with the highest scores on completed applications won the opportunity to showcase their projects and learn new ideas from each other.
- Dream Makers
- Team contact: Joel Tannehill, 509-945-4090
- Team members:
- Jose Suarez (8th grade)
- Mercede Byers (8th grade)
- Chance Jackson (8th grade)
- Juan Carlos Serrano (8th grade)
- Chelsey Sheppard (10th grade)
- Tedra Spencer (11th grade)
- Darlene Cash
- Nancy Fiander
- Susan Doyle
- Shelton High School Students Against Drunken Driving (SADD)
- Wilson Youth Leading Change —Tacoma
- Advisor: Cheryl Ausboe (253-272-6824)
- Washington Youth Leading Change — Tacoma
- Advisor: Mrs. Tobias (253-272-6824)
- Dream Makers (see above)
- Youth Action —Quincy
- Advisor: Maristella Webley (509-787-4548)
- Lincoln Youth Leading Change —Tacoma
- Advisor: Alissa Farias (253-272-6824)
- Washington High School SADD — Tacoma
- Advisor: Deborah Cozzetti (253-209-5216)
- Innovation - TELL (Timbercrest Encouraging Lifelong Lessons) —Seattle
- Advisor: Krista Rose Cate (360-442-1429)
- Sustainability – WHS Awareness Presentation Team —Tacoma
- Advisor: Robert Barnett (253-298-4700)
- Impact - Omak Street Team —Omak
- Advisor: Andi Ervin (509-826-8454)
- Presentation Style & Professionalism —Foss Youth Leading Change—Tacoma
- Advisor: Mr. Melton (253-272-6825)
- Collaboration & Partnerships —Point Blank SADD —East Sound
- Advisor: Julie Pinardi (360-376-1553)
- For team photos or contacts, please contact Janelle Guthrie
- For more on the teams and their projects, download the Spring Youth Summit program (PDF)
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725